Industry and Innovation
The next space covers the reigns of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani and Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century. The narrative focuses on two turning points of Qatari history: the collapse of the pearling industry and the discovery of oil.
The dramatic loss at the beginning of the 20th century of Qatar’s major source of income (partly as a result of the development of cultured pearls in Japan), as well as a plague that decimated the country, and the loss of the pearling fleet in the storm known as Sanat Al Tabah, is narrated through archival newspaper stories and oral histories. After this dark time, oil was found in the region and eventually in Qatar, and this sense of hope and anticipation is communicated through an uplifting and dramatic art film created by Doug Aitken, projected across three vast gallery walls.
Here visitors will also see objects relating to the early period of the oil industry, including an installation of oil pipes, objects that signified the changing lifestyles of Qatari people such as radios, televisions and telephones, stamps and currency, and the personal possessions of the leaders of the country.
Featured Film: The Coming of Oil, 2017
Director: Doug Aitken
The Coming of Oil is a multi-channel installation that explores the layered geological depths of the land and the historical legacy brought by the discovery of oil, a turning point in the history and development of present-day Qatar.
As a result of oil exports and, later, the development of liquid natural gas (LNG) production, Qatar experienced unprecedented development between the 1970s and the 2000s. The central exhibit in the space is a beautiful model of the city of Doha, showing its expansion across this 40-year period following the investment in urban planning and infrastructure.
In this space you can explore the different master plans and significant buildings of Doha on the digital screens that surround the display, while projections dynamically map the city’s development. An interactive digital archive wall allows you to access hundreds of images and related archive documents that present the city’s transformation, and present thematic visual explorations of, for example, education and the development of a sophisticated health system.
The gallery then looks at the investment in LNG by the Father Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the success of which resulted in Qatar’s more recent development. A film featuring HH Sheikh Hamad highlights this and his other achievements, while a video installation by John Sanborn dramatically explores the LNG phenomenon.
Featured Film: Alchemy, 2019
Director: John Sanborn
To change the world you must have vision, courage and the will to succeed. With what appears to be alchemy – but is actually a blend of pioneering science, innovative investment and intense dedication – the vision of the Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has become a reality. John Sanborn’s Alchemy celebrates the remarkable daring and enormous benefits of Qatar’s development of Liquid Natural Gas as a resource for the world. The work conveys the beauty and majesty of this achievement in an ingenious and poetic form, beginning with a mysterious unknown, and ending with a smile of recognition.